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NNPS-TV videographers get the shot with tiny water-friendly camera

When it comes to recording the happenings at Newport News public schools, the NNPS-TV production team goes to great lengths, heights and depths.

With today's students often learning outside the classroom and sometimes even in the water, the production team has to be prepared to go wherever the students and teachers go, even if it means shooting video in, around, and under the water.

NNPS-TV has recently had a number of opportunities to do water-related video recording for shows about programs in our schools. Kayaking on local rivers, Water Safety at An Achievable Dream Academy, water-pressure propelled science experiments, and underwater robotics are a few of the activities the team has covered.

GoPro camera
The GoPro video camera is tiny.

Photo: http://camerawestblog.blogspot.com

When they are working in and around water, NNPS-TV videographers employ a tiny GoPro video camera, which can be encased in a watertight housing. The GoPro camera is the one they mount (using a heavy-duty suction cup accessory) onto school buses and Driver's Ed cars to get action shots. They have even attached it to student-made egg baskets to drop from the second floor to record middle-school science experiments.

Watch the videos

Teach Green #27: Kayak Camp
Teach Green #27: Kayak Camp

Washington Chesapeake Experience
Teach Green #46: Washington Chesapeake Experience

This Just In #180: Week of August 5, 2013
(An Achievable Dream Academy swimming)

STEM Academy
News in a Minute #103: Summer of Innovation - STEM Academy

(Water-pressure propelled rockets)

This Just In #167: Week of May 6, 2013
(SeaPerch underwater ROV)

As fun and exciting as all that is, using the camera under water is not the easiest thing, as the videographer has no way of seeing what he is doing. NNPS-TV Producer Nik Long and Video Production Technician Aaron Moore have to guess where to angle the camera to get the best shot.

When Moore first got the camera and protective housing, he went to Washington Middle School, which is the Marine Science magnet, and, as such, has a lot of fish tanks on hand. He tested out the camera in the aquatic lab to get the hang of it.

Luckily, the camera has a wide-angle lens, which means a lot fits in the shot, so the chances of capturing what you want are better. There is no zoom or any sort of remote control.

Theoretically, the videographer can review the video clip on the camera to see if it needs to be re-shot, but realistically, during a fast-paced shoot there is no time for that. So the videographers do the best they can, and review it when they get back to the station.

The camera records in HD, so the quality of the footage is good. Another benefit of the camera is it is really small, so it can fit in places that a large video camera can't go, and can get really close to the subject. The camera can be placed in the tank where an underwater robot is doing its maneuvers, suctioned onto a kayak paddle, or put next to the bull's eye during an archery tournament.

Which points to another benefit of the camera, and perhaps the most important one to our videographers: It can go where it is dangerous for a camera operator to go!

So the production team loves to use the handy GoPro camera, and is thinking up more ways to use it. In the future, they may try to attach it to one of Crittenden Middle School's underwater ROV's (remotely-operated vehicle).

The joke used to be that any silly and useless class was called "Underwater Basket Weaving." If for some reason Newport News Public Schools offered Underwater Basket Weaving, NNPS-TV would surely be there to cover it!